I recently had a lovely meeting with the Chief HR Officer of a large European Company. We were undertaking an opportunity assessment involving several divisions within the overall organisation, across several countries and so we were chatting through the possibilities for HR & Professional services spend. So over a nice cup of tea, with only the occasional language difficulty, we managed over the hour to explore the changing culture of the organisation, the challenge of overcoming divisional silos, and the need to face into the fact the market is changing as the traditional modus operandi transforms into the new digital age.
There were some testy times, in fairness. I’d noticed that the spend on cultural workshop training was relatively low for an organisation of this size and wondered if there were plans to address that to help teams work across divisional units better, by understanding each other more. We had some fairly passionate debate on the whys and wherefores of whether this is a good thing to do, or whether there’s no time for such niceties and it’s time for the organisation to grow up, get on the bus or be prepared to step right out in front of it.
Tough stuff. But this is a business meaning ‘business’ and it has things to do, and the leadership team are right out there fronting it. We ordered our second cup of tea and I gently paved the way from the macro to the micro of spend categories like Travel, Temporary Labour, Recruitment. My objective? To get agreement for HR to sponsor these areas from the front, and for procurement to lead the projects using category management. Further challenge, further testing, an exploration of some roles and responsibilities and resource constraints and as 2 people on a mission, we got tasky, agreed some high level dates, times and plans and it was job done. And then time to say goodbye – which was just as well because the Personal Assistant was itching to tear the CHRO away to presumably the next meeting.
As we said goodbye, I was left with a conundrum and I would love all procurement professionals – and other professionals who work with procurement folk – to tell me what you think. This is what was said: “No disrespect to your profession but that is the best conversation I have ever had with a procurement person”. So you tell me, should I be pleased, or disappointed?